Workshop 4. Real-world Biosafety Communication and Engagement
Organizers: Jill Kuehnert, Seed Stories, USA and Hennie Groenewald, Biosafety SouthAfrica, South Africa

Genetic modification, genome editing, synthetic biology and other advances in the application of biosciences could drive a new paradigm for engineering microbes, plants and animals. These applications have the potential to positively transform agriculture, nutrition, industrial value chains and other aspects of society, but only if they gain the social licenses required to support research, regulatory, and marketing activities, including ethical sanction, support from policymakers and consumer acceptance. A complex set of contributing factors have already led to risk perceptions around biosafety which may hinder the application of these technologies and preclude the development of useful new products. Concerted but context-specific efforts are therefore required to communicate and engage with society on biosafety topics and develop environments that are more conducive to sustainable biotech innovation. Monitoring and evaluation of biosafety communications and engagement activities is important for gauging their effectiveness, as is dialogue with academics who study science communications.
This workshop will complement ISBR Symposium Plenary Session 1: Communications and Engagement with Policy and Public Audiences with specific goals to:
  • Review real-world biosafety communication and engagement experiences and practices within a variety of contexts associated with biotech innovation: R&D projects; policy-making and the development of regulations; business development, trade and marketing; and general awareness/grassroots advocacy campaigns.
  • Provide academic reflections from the science of science communications on these practical experiences, and;
  • Give participants an opportunity to participate in discussion and learn from each other's experiences.
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